The Making of Bennington's 10th President, Mariko Silver

The story behind Bennington's first presidential search in 26 years—and the extraordinary candidate who emerged.

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In Conversation: President Mariko Silver

Recent graduate trustee Jason Moon ’13 talks with Bennington College’s tenth president Dr. Mariko Silver. They discuss what she finds compelling about Bennington, the college’s signature programs Field Work Term and The Plan, as well as the role the College plays as a vibrant model for the liberal arts.

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10th President of Bennington College

Dr. Mariko Silver took office as president of Bennington on July 1, 2013. Prior to this appointment Dr. Silver was a senior advisor to the president of Arizona State University (ASU). She previously held leadership roles at Columbia University, in the Obama administration, and in the administration of Arizona’s governor Janet Napolitano.

As senior advisor to ASU President Michael Crow, Dr. Silver was a key strategist in what Newsweek called “one of the most radical redesigns in higher learning since the origins of the modern university.” She designed and led international and community initiatives focused on economic development, interdisciplinary science initiatives, and student success. Dr. Silver also served as Professor of Practice in ASU’s School of Politics and Global Studies and established international research and teaching partnerships, including the international University Design Consortium.

Dr. Silver served in the Obama administration as Acting Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Policy of the US Department of Homeland Security where she spearheaded the creation of the first department-wide international strategy, managed the Department’s international engagements, and co-developed a global initiative to enhance aviation security. Prior to that, she served as Policy Advisor to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, with responsibility for the state’s public and private universities, community colleges, and vocational institutions; the Arizona Department of Commerce; and Science Foundation Arizona. In these capacities she has worked with multiple communities and constituencies around the world and very close to home.

In the Office of the Executive Vice-Provost of Columbia University, Dr. Silver co-developed a multi-institution research response to the events of 9/11 and helped establish the International Innovation Initiative (I-3). She has also worked in London, UK; Bangkok, Thailand; and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Dr. Silver has served on the boards of the Humanity in Action Foundation, Planned Parenthood of Arizona, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and is a member of the American Association of Geographers and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Silver holds a BA in History from Yale University, an MSc in Science and Technology Policy from the University of Sussex (UK), and a Ph.D. in Economic Geography from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Dr. Silver is married to musician Thom Loubet and is the mother of two children.

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